Rent struggles, even in Deni

By Jamie Lowe

A large number of families are struggling to afford rent in Deniliquin, despite the town ranking as one of the most affordable towns in Australia for rentals.

According to the Rental Affordability Index, Deniliquin is listed as “affordable” or “acceptable” in all demographics but one.

Rentals are not affordable for those on a Newstart Allowance.

It is the same Australia wide, with data showing no single area of Australia is affordable in this demographic.

Deniliquin St Vincent de Paul Conference secretary Daphne Greaves said with the recent job cuts at SunRice, she is fearful more people will fall into this not affordable group.
‘‘Calls for help from Vinnies has increased a lot in the last 12 months,’’ she said.

‘‘Due to lack of work, people have very low self esteem, putting stress on their family life.

‘‘Rent is very high and rates have gone up as well; it’s just awful.

‘‘We have been pushing for Vinnies in Sydney to take it to the government to solve this issue, because rent is just not affordable.

‘‘We cannot help with bond money, but we have been able to help people with one or two weeks rent.

‘‘But most people affected are not able to maintain staying in the property, as they can’t afford the rent.’’

Rent for a two-bedroom flat varies from $130 to $160 a week, while a three bedroom house averages between $240 to $280 according to long-time Elders estate agent Lester Wheatley.
He said it is affordable for the average family, but agreed it was out of reach for those on Newstart.

He said this was more a reflection on the welfare system, than the housing market.

‘‘Our top range for an executive style four bedroom home is generally costing $360 to $450 a week,’’ he said.

‘‘There’s not a lot at that range though, and there is nothing much beyond that.

‘‘Right now the rental market in Deniliquin is very affordable for the average family, though it is tight with a 1.5 to two per cent vacancy rate.

‘‘Because of the drought and low water allocations affecting our town, the rate of purchasing a home is quite low.

‘‘The need for rentals increases because of this but the vacancy rate is still quite tight.

‘‘I don’t think anywhere in Australia is affordable for those on Newstart Allowance, but it is certainly better and cheaper here than it is in Melbourne.’’

Deniliquin’s St Vincent de Paul  - which also manages assistance for Moama, Mathoura, Moulamein and Wakool residents -  can offer a range of options to support those in need.

‘‘There is no water for farmers which is a big problem,’’ Mrs Greaves said.

‘‘If you are affected by the drought we have a website for drought assistance, in which you may qualify.

‘‘We also help people with electricity accounts, Telstra accounts, gas, chemist scripts, fuel for emergency medical appointments out of town, home and household goods and clothing.’’